Caribbean Travel Blog- Q&A With WikiAnswers

I was interviewed by Wikianswers and Answers.com about our choice to live aboard our boat and cruise the Caribbean for years in search of a new home.  It was a great interview and I decided to publish it to my Caribbean Travel Blog to allow our readers to better understand why we made our choice and what it is like to live aboard our boat.  Enjoy!Caribbean Travel Blog

Q&A with Robb Hamic on Answers.com.

Robb, you live on your boat, the Miss Lone Star, with your wife and two children. Can you tell us what life is like living on a boat?

Living on a boat with the whole family is interesting each day! The live-aboard lifestyle is fun, relaxing, hectic and chaotic all at the same time. Living in a small space with a dog and two kids can be challenging but we make the most of it. We don’t have to remind ourselves that we are living the dream everyday but our pesky kids try to give us the business, when they get the chance. We are always busy until there is nothing to do. We take the time to share some of life’s greatest moments with each other and we have grown much closer as a family aboard our boat.

What influenced your decision to live on a boat?

I had the dream of living in the Caribbean since I was a kid. I dreamed of sailing the open sea and diving for pirate gold at the bottom of the ocean. I would catch lobsters with my bare hands someday! It was a kid dream that never died, in reality. We ultimately came to the radical decision of living on our boat because of a number of factors. School violence in the US is prevalent and early childhood education is spotty in schools. We thought we could do better but why do it from a home in a suburban neighborhood? We felt guilty for having a big house, multiple cars and too much stuff that we didn’t use. It made a lot of sense to keep only what we used daily or wanted forever. We actually save a ton of money living on a boat in the Caribbean compared to our everyday life in Austin, Texas. We are creating memories that are unreachable for many people and we felt the positives outweighed the unknown. Continue reading

What is Your Plan for Self Defense on a Boat/ Yacht in the Caribbean?

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I have read much of what there is on the Internet concerning self defense on a boat/yacht in the Caribbean. Frankly, I am not impressed. I believe that it is a person’s right to defend themselves. In my opinion, it is a person’s responsibility to defend their family in a situation where a life is on the line. It is my experience that many people become victims of crime, even if just attempted, regardless of how prepared they are. Bad things happen to good people and all of that. I decided to write a journal entry on some research I conducted and my own professional opinion as a self defense and gun instructor.

The potential for crime in the Caribbean is endless. I grew up watching pirate movies as a kid. Pirates still exist but they aren’t taking loads of gold from transport ships as they did in the Golden Age of piracy. Pirate is just a fancy name for criminal.  Crime evolves like everything else. Crime is very high in many Caribbean nations. Per capita, some large Caribbean cities have violent crime rates higher than Washington D.C. or Chicago. I am not advocating that people avoid the Caribbean, obviously. I do advocate people to understand what they are getting into, in terms of potential personal protection and self defense options. Big cities are not the typical cruiser’s only concern, in my opinion.

Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt ~ Mark Twain

Many of us seek to travel the Caribbean so that we can be alone or undisturbed. We long for that picturesque remote anchorage to settle down for the night. We want to beach comb during the day undisturbed and it becomes easy with our big boats that can anchor just about anywhere. The Bahamas has 700 islands, who knows how many cays and at least 550 miles of distance from one end to the other. I can see this tranquility when I dream at night. My dream becomes less ideal if I were to envision one, two or three people with bad intentions on the island with me and my family.

I have always said bad guys like remote locations with poor phone service.

The fact is, there are an unlimited amount of situations that could cause a person grief, if only in their bad dreams. I believe in being prepared. I believe in doing research for data that could help me to determine what preparations I must make to keep my family safe. I also understand that sometimes data isn’t available for various reasons.  Reported cases of piracy isn’t on the rise in the Caribbean, according to the data.  There are isolated incidents in the Western and more reported cases in the Eastern part of the Caribbean closer to South America.  Each nation has different criteria and procedures for reporting crime.  Systems vary and some data isn’t published or even recorded.  Data can’t be recorded if it isn’t reported.  I think it was Captain Davy Jones that said “dead men tell no tales.”  Several Caribbean nations don’t make their police reporting data available to others or the public.  The fact that tourism is a huge part of most Caribbean nation’s economy is likely the driving factor.  I don’t think that this is just an issue with foreign nations; it happens in the United States.  I read the following news report, that wasn’t widely reported by the US Media today.

The spate of 82 shootings in Chicago over the July 4th holiday weekend, in which at least 16 people were killed.

Of course, it gives me pause.  I could look at the FBI statistics that show Chicago had 500 murders last year but I don’t see a lot of overly negative reports that warn the public not to go watch the Chicago Bulls play ball.  The perception that most US cites are generally safe in some areas prevails and so does the tourism that fuels those economies.  The media doesn’t report that Orlando, Florida has a crime rate three times the US average and that there is a registered sex offender for every 137 citizens in the county where where our larges family amusement park is located.  Why?  I would bet that tourism has something to do with it.  Wouldn’t you?  Crime is crime, reported or not.  Crime is crime, even if it isn’t maintained in a database or found in a survey.  Crime happens everywhere in the world and in some places more than others.  Consider this information:

While there has been a slight reduction in 2013 in some crime categories as reported by the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF), violent crime remains above the 2012 level. Since July 2013, the government has not published national crime statistics. The Bahamas continues to have a high crime rate, particularly on New Providence Island, which has continued to experience escalated levels of violent crime. Home break-ins, theft, and robbery are not confined to any specific part of the island.

WARNING! Too many tourists & foreign investors are killed in Dominican Republic – Body Count: 39, Who is next? Canadian civil war world blogger calls DR the world’s most dangerous country!

Reliable crime statistics are difficult to come by; Haitian National Police (HNP) numbers indicating a modest drop in crime during 2012 were undercut by those from other security entities operating in-country that continued to show a steady rise since 2010. A comparative analysis of figures from various police/security entities operating throughout Haiti reflects a continuation of the trend in which incidents of crimes are inaccurately or under-reported. Haiti’s perennially weak judiciary exacerbates an already unsteady security environment.

In the past eight years, Puerto Rico’s ticker tape of woes has stretched unabated: $70 billion in debt, a 15.4 percent unemployment rate, a soaring cost of living, pervasive crime, crumbling schools and a worrisome exodus of professionals and middle-class Puerto Ricans who have moved to places like Florida and Texas.

V.I. homicide rate still among world’s highest.

Kingston is rated as a Critical crime threat post due to the violence and frequency of criminal activity throughout Jamaica. Violent crime is a serious problem, particularly in Kingston.There is no evidence to indicate criminals and gang-related activities are specifically targeting U.S. citizens.

..countries with clearly higher rates were Honduras, with 91.6 homicides per 100,000 people in 2011, and El Salvador, with 69.2 homicides per 100,000 people in 2011, according to the U.N. data. The territory’s rate also would be in the same ballpark as Cote d’Ivoire, which last reported a homicide rate in 2008, at which point it was 56.9 per 100,000 people.

Do I believe that most of the crime is reported in higher density areas, such as big cities?  Yes.  Do I believe that an honest citizen can go to a large city and not be the victim of crime? Absolutely.  Do I want to be the victim of crime anywhere?  Absolutely not!  Would I be more or less concerned about crime that happened to me in a populated or remote area?  I guess the answer to that would depend upon the criminal’s intent towards me and my family.  I wouldn’t like either scenario but I would prefer being in a more populated area during a crime.  Cruisers and sailors have different problems than tourists.  Who are we going to call?  Many of the blogs or forums I read on the Internet recommend using VHF channel 16 for distress.  Depending on a radio (or who may answer the call) is not a prudent plan for self defense.

Make no mistake, I am a gun guy but I don’t believe that guns are or should be the only answer.  Certainly, they are an option for me at times.  My self defense plan starts with awareness and goes from there.  I have instructed over fifty thousand women, men, law enforcement and military people during my walk on this earth.  So that one may walk in peace.

I promise to dedicate my time, effort and energy in sharing my plan in coming journal entries.  Thank you for reading my words.

Captain of the Miss Lone Star

Captain of the Miss Lone Star

Personal Protection on a Boat

I found little information about “personal protection on a boat” on the Internet.  We are planning a move onto our boat in July 2015 and we plan to spend the hurricane season in Florida on the Inter-Coastal Waterway (ICW).  We will get underway on our Caribbean voyage as soon as possible and we will be in foreign waters.  I wrote this to provide my perspective to others who are in similar situations.

Protecting Miss Lone Star

Protecting Miss Lone Star

My background is in the military and law enforcement.  I am a retired US Army Veteran.  Later in life I became a professional tactical trainer and specialized in guns, knives, tactics and Israeli Krav Maga.  I have instructed law enforcement officers on all weapons that they carry for defense, custody and control.  I taught instructors and students throughout the world in all of the above and more for over 15 years.  I have been involved in more than a few dozen handfuls of violent encounters.  I firmly believe in a person’s right to defend themselves, their family and anyone they choose to protect in a time of need.

 Sailing and cruising the Caribbean is a topic that is loved by many.  The lifestyle attracts many of us free spirits who want to find fun, solitude, new cultures and adventure.  It has been my life-long dream to have my own boat blowing the trade winds of the Caribbean.  I am lucky enough to be able to realize my dream at such an early age and we recently made the decision to set our date to set off.  I knew this decision brought many responsibilities, given my personal experience.

Protecting miss lone starMy young kids and beautiful wife will accompany me on our journey which will take us throughout the ICW in Florida, all of the island chains in the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Spanish Virgin Islands and the US Virgin Islands.  We plan to spend about a year cruising our power boat through remote anchorages and we will likely not see others for several days at a time.  We will also find port in large towns such as the Nassau.  Our plans require a lot of options for our protection while underway.  I have been paid to analyze a person’s risk in given situations professionally and I will detail the risk assessment, potential threats and measures that I have undertaken to ensure my family’s safety.  Happy reading.

Research has led me to observe that piracy exists in the Caribbean. What is piracy?  In my opinion, Caribbean piracy is a kin to a “thug(s) on a boat.”  It appears that the vast majority of reported piracy consists of theft motivated crimes.  Sometimes people are hurt and sometimes they are just robbed.  Many cruisers are forced from their boats and others are left on their vessel after theft.

Aubrey GSD traing Schutzhund

Aubrey GSD traing Schutzhund

Unfortunately, when someone is allowed to control you and your family, what ultimately happens to you is up to them.  I know a lot of people who say, “I’d just let them take my money.”  I have heard this statement from men and women for a decade whom I trained personally.  I taught people who a bad guy can only take three things from you.

Money, Body, Life or a combination thereof

Think about it.  These are the only options at hand if a person has control of you.  What they take is up to them.  People ask, “What will they take?”  I don’t have the answer.  Only the bad guy can answer that question.   I know that most crime is opportunistic.  I see a lot of crime happening for one motivator, such as money, then turning bad when the bad guy decides he wants something more.  Rape happens, not just on a boat in the Caribbean. Just ask 74% of the female population in the United States that has been a victim of some form of it.  Murder happens.  Not just to be mean.  People murder to cover up crimes.

I have often told my private clients “never go to a secondary location with a bad guy because that is where the really bad things happen.”

One problem with living aboard a boat is that it is a convenient and mobile secondary location.  Furthermore, boats are valuable resources to people who would board them with bad intentions.  How much is your vessel worth?  I am certainly not writing this to convince people of the dangers in life.  I know some people have to see the world through “rose collared” glasses.  I know that many people take a very moderate view on protecting one’s self.  Some people choose to live in denial because it is less scary.  That is their right.  I don’t wish a debate with any of these people.  Life has taught me different and I choose to be a happy, smiling guy with a lot of information and several plans when action is required.  I suspect that many like-minded people will read this for the same reason that I wrote it.

I hope that this journal proves to be a resource to people in search of information.  Please take the time to look for frequent new posts, videos on our YouTube Channel and other useful information about our journey.

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